Between Vietnam and the Khmer Rouge, the scars of the recent past run deep.
Hope and healing from the past
Cambodians are a resilient people, observes John Pudaite of Bibles For The World. The ministry launched a scripture distribution project roughly 15 years ago and, “it’s been on our hearts to come back, circle back around and see how things are going.” Today, there is a growing, maturing body of Christ in Cambodia, but at the same time, the country remains one of the least reached countries in the world; just under 2% of the population follows Christ.
Hope infuses that resiliency and makes it an excellent place to plant some seeds. “Franklin Graham is having a ‘Love Phnom Penh’ festival there December 7-8. The local churches have come together in a really strong way around this event. We’re really excited to be partnering with the Graham organization, and along with the local believers, the body of Christ, there in Cambodia.”
In the days since the fall of the Pol Pot regime, Cambodia’s experienced an economic revitalization of sorts, explains Pudaite. “After nearly 15 years, Chinese investment has come in huge and really transformed that country. They’re investing in land, real estate; they’re getting involved in a lot of different aspects of business.”
He goes on to say, “Among those Chinese, there’s a fair amount of Christians. So the Chinese Christians coming alongside this, Franklin Graham’ Love Phnom Penh’ festival, have decided to do a special outreach to the Chinese people who are in Cambodia, in and around the festival.”
Reaching China through unexpected means
He’s especially excited about this aspect of the project. “Even at a time we hear of all the restrictions and tightening down of things inside China, we continue to work there as many other ministries continue to do. We were very excited to have another opportunity to reach the Chinese people for Christ, and here in the country of Cambodia.”
The festival itself is the culmination of months of preparation and organization. Pudaite says, “We have been planning initially to provide a Gospel of John along with discipleship materials of the Graham Organization, provided at every one of their festivals; it’s called ‘Living in Christ’, and this will be given (a booklet combined with the Gospel of John) to everyone who does come forward and make a decision for Christ at the two nights of the festival.”
Bibles For The World volunteers will also handle the doors to catch anyone who might not have gone forward in a public decision. Plus, this festival includes a special outreach to children. Pudaite says they’re providing a special booklet called ‘Jesus Loves Me.’ “It will include a simple plan of salvation; a simple story of how God’s love for us, and his sending His Son, Jesus Christ, has given us eternal hope. It will also include the Gospel of John.”
Spiritual warfare is no joke
Do you know that saying ‘The devil is in the details’? It’s one that the Bibles For The World team takes seriously. With so many moving parts in coordinating such a massive project, Pudaite’s asking for prayer cover.
First, “We need to pray that the government of Cambodia will not withdraw the permission for this festival. It is to be held at the National Olympic Stadium, right in the center of the capital city of Phnom Penh. And that’s something that, you know, is always uncertain in these types of countries– that permissions could be withdrawn.”
Second, there’s a lot of work that goes into discipleship for new Christians. “We need folks to pray for good cooperation between the churches, and good follow up to this festival. Those who do choose to follow Christ after this festival have to be brought into the local churches, into the fellowship of believers.”
Headline image courtesy Billy Graham Evangelistic Association